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Music

The Ups & Downs of Writing a Heartbreak EP, from Someone Who Has Done It

September 1, 2015

josh-stevens-skyelyfeLike many, musician Josh Stevens got out of a relationship that “ended really badly,” and he lived to tell about it.

The Orange County, CA native – who has a long history of working behind the scenes with A-list artists, including Jennifer Lopez, Calvin Harris, Nicki Minaj and his close homie Warren G. – is finally becoming the face of his own music with the release of his debut EP, The Story of Summer, which explores the ups and downs of having a significant other.

The five-song compilation is slated for official release at the end of September, but in the meantime, he just put out its first single “Hill Top” (featuring Capital Cities‘ Spencer Ludwig – scroll to the bottom to hear), an anthemic pop-rock tune that touches on one of the many sides of being in love.

“This song is like the euphoric, everything is great – and then once you get into the rest of the EP, you’ll find there are some lower points and dark points,” Stevens tells skyelyfe. “This was a few years ago, so it was definitely reflective writing of a time period in my life. I didn’t write it while I was going through it because I didn’t even know I was going through it. When you look back, you’re kind of like, wow, that’s what I was going through. I had to learn and grow from my experience.”

Stevens is fine now – in fact, he and his current girlfriend use the “Hill Top” lyrics as their relationship mantra when they are both traveling separately all over the world for work. But he does recall those previously painful times.

When you get out of a relationship, you can do one of two things that people usually do: They either close up and become secluded or they just wild out,” he says. “I did both. I did crazy partying and had one-night stands. Then at some point, you realize, oh, this isn’t all its cracked up to be. [At first] you’re like, this is amazing, I’m free! But then you realize real quick, ooh, there’s some darkness.”

Because this was Stevens’ first time crafting his own music material, there were things he didn’t expect during the process. But also, some things he found enlightening.

Read about the challenges and surprises he experienced while writing these songs about the ups and downs of falling in love:Josh-stevens-cover-art-skyelyfe

1. Writing about the lessons from these failed relationships was sometimes tough

“I’m one of those people who doesn’t reflect very often,” Stevens says. “It’s not in my nature. I’m not like, ‘Oh, I wish that could have been different.’ I’m more like, ‘What can I learn from that?’ When I went back to kind of see what went on during that time period, I kind of wrote it from that perspective. I can’t deny this is what happened, but what can I learn from it? Not really like, let me go live in it again. It wasn’t hard to go back. The hardest thing was to figure out what I learned from it and what I can tell other people from this experience.”

2. He realized he wasn’t alone in his past emotional state

“I think to sum it all up, there’s a sense of loneliness when you go through this,” Stevens says of breakups. “A feeling of, I’m alone and no one else understands. I think what has developed from this EP is people are not alone. You’re not alone in this feeling. There’s someone else who has gone through this. I hope the listener has that mentality.”

3. He realized how much of an impact his songs have on others

“I didn’t expect so many people to be stoked about [the EP], to be honest,” Stevens admits. “I was like, I’m going to do my own thing and see how it comes out. People have been super receptive to it. There’s a song on there called ‘Call Me Crazy,’ which is about my experience going through Hollywood and dealing with dirt being kicked in your face, and naysayers. Somebody came up to me and told me they go through that all the time and that the song spoke to them and it helps them get through the day. In a way, it’s awesome, but at the same time, it’s kind of creepy. I’m more of a behind-the-scenes dude, so I’m not quite used to that response. I’m very appreciative though. Another person came up to me who heard the song ‘Anna,’ and they said the song is helping them heal. Things like that I never would have expected. I make music as purely as possible. If it resonates, it resonates. It’s kind of out of my control.”

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Music

Casper Smart’s Music Video Love Interest Haifa Wehbe Talks ‘Enjoyable’ Experience Working with J.Lo’s Man

July 14, 2015

HaifaLebanese pop star Haifa Wehbe has some interesting ties to Jennifer Lopez. For starters, she had the pleasure of featuring Lopez’s boyfriend Casper Smart as her love interest in her music video for “Breathing You In” (scroll to bottom). Additionally, Wehbe – who is in her early forties – says she’s “often compared to” the American Idol judge, with journalists even referring to her as “the Jennifer Lopez of the Middle East.”

Skyelyfe caught up with the singing sensation, who dished on everything from the Middle East’s pop music scene, to favorite L.A. hotspots when she comes to town. And of course, it was necessary that she shared her “enjoyable” experience teaming up with Smart.

Get to know Wehbe below:

skyelyfe: What is the electronic and pop music scene like in the Middle East? And the music scene in general? What is most popular? Which American artists are big out there?

Haifa Wehbe: The music scene in the Middle East is very diverse. From hip-hop, to pop, to electro, to rock, both local and international artists have big fan bases in the Middle East. The electronic and pop scenes are continuing to grow in the Middle East. I am proud of the accomplishments of other Middle Eastern pop artists, including Ahlam and Wael Kfoury. American artists who are big in the Middle East include Snoop Dogg, Akon, Nicki Minaj and Pitbull.

SL: Who are some American artists you personally enjoy listening to? (It doesn’t matter if they are popular or not)

HW: I really enjoy listening to Rihanna, and my favorite songs of hers are “Diamonds,” “We Found Love” and “Only Girl (In The World).” I also like Britney Spears (“Womanizer,” “Gimme More” and “Till The World Ends”) and Chris Brown (“Run It,” “Look At Me Now” and “Turn Up The Music.”)

SL: How did you end up working with Casper and what was that experience like?

HW: I was actually introduced to Casper through my record label, World Music. The label’s co-CEOs, Tarik Freitekh and Mostafa Sorour were already friends with Casper and they thought it would be a good idea to have him in the music video. When we were introduced we immediately found common ground which made the process of working together on the music video for “Breathing You In” so enjoyable.

SL: What are your thoughts on Los Angeles and what are some of your favorite places to eat/drink/shop in this city?

HW: I love, love, love Los Angeles – what an amazing city. When I visit Los Angeles I stay at my favorite hotel, the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. I have been staying at that hotel for so many years and it is centrally located to my two favorite shopping areas: Rodeo Drive and Melrose. When I am in town for longer stays I actually travel to Newport Beach to visit with friends and, of course, shop at Fashion Island. My favorite restaurants in Los Angeles are Mastros and Nobu in Malibu.

SL: Where in the Middle East do you live?

HW: I live in Beruit, Lebanon. It is an exciting cosmopolitan city often referred to as “the Paris of the East.” It is a “high energy” coastal city with amazing restaurants, art galleries, museums and shops – it is actually a very popular tourist destination.

SL: How did you first get into performing?

HW: When I was very young, I knew that when I got older that I wanted to be an entertainer – I had a real passion for singing and acting. I first got started by modeling, which gave me great exposure. From modeling I was able to springboard into singing with the initial release of three singles (I have since released eight albums total). I then branched out into acting having been in four very successful feature length motion pictures including Halawet al-Rooh.

SL: What is the story behind “Breathing You In” and how did the song come to be?

HW: I knew that I wanted to release an English-language song that had meaning – that reflected something deeper about how I live my life. The song is an anthem for how to manage day-to-day challenges. By breathing in and breathing out, you can instantly find peace and create a permanent sense of calm. The lyrics reflect my personal philosophy about dealing with difficult times  – breathing, for me, is about finding my center, my balance.

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